International Conference on Education OpensGeneva - Over 70 ministers of education are participating in the 47th session of UNESCO’s International Conference on Education (ICE), which opened here today amidst celebrations for International Literacy Day.
A growing loss of confidence in education systems and structures, and a general perception that students are not learning what they need to cope with today’s societies, provide the backdrop for this session of the ICE, which has been organized around the theme of “Quality education for all young people: Challenges, Trends and Priorities.”
The debate over quality education is not “something that can only be treated in terms of inputs (buildings, resources, budgets etc.) or in terms of outputs narrowly conceived as examination results and certificates,” said UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura. “It is a debate about the need to provide education so that young people can deal with uncertainty, physical and virtual mobility, sustainable development and the myriad of different existing cultures.”
The inaugural session of the conference was followed by a ceremony marking International Literacy Day, including testimonies from newly literate adults on how learning to read and write had changed their lives, and the awarding of one of this year’s UNESCO International Literacy Prizes. The $15,000 International Reading Association Award was presented to a representative from L’Edikasyon pu travayer, a non governmental organization in Mauritius, which emphasizes literacy for women, respect for cultural context and use of mother languages. The organization has also produced, printed and distributed books - including the first Mauritian Creole dictionary - and reading materials covering aspects of learners’ lives.
The two other awards, the King Sejong Literacy Prizes, each worth $15,000, were presented to Alfabetizacao Solidaria (AlfaSol, Brazil) and the Steering Group of Literacy Education in Qinghai Province (China), at ceremonies held in those countries.
The International Conference on Education, which continues through to Saturday, September 11 at Geneva’s International Conference Centre (Switzerland), is structured around four workshops: Quality education and gender equality; Quality education and competencies for life; Quality education and social inclusion; Quality education and the role of teachers.
A final debate (Friday, September 10, from 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm) will discuss “promoting Partnerships for the right to a quality education for all young people.” Principal speakers include Brazilian member of parliament Carlos Augusto Abicalil, former Education International president Mary Futrell, Jana Huttova of the Open Society Institute, Bruno Masier, President of the World Trade Point Federation, Martin Itoua, President of the Federation africain des Parents d’eleves and Clive Crook, Deputy Editor of The Economist.